By: Lorrie Ward | Category: Special Interest | Issue: April 2012
The CCLP board (L to R): (front row) Derald Buckley, Barbara Belk, Joyce Ulstrup, Lashikia Lynch, Debbie Marshall, Tiffany Owen, Barbara Morris, Barbara Fuente, (back row) Bernie Fugate, Greg Goodin, Richard Fulton, Ian Danziger, Cynthia Holtwick, Beverly Thompson, Cheryl Wells and Sharon Martin.
Spelling bees are often thought of as academic events focusing on individual achievement. But the folks at the Creek County Literacy Program (CCLP) in Sapulpa decided over a decade ago that a spelling bee could also be a fun community event, in which teams could come together and raise money to promote literacy in Creek County. And even with a struggling economy that has negatively affected so many fundraisers in recent years, CCLP Director Barbara Belk reports that the Spell-A-Round Creek County Spelling Bee gets stronger every year.
“The event continues to be a huge success despite the prediction that annual fundraisers usually lose steam after 10 years,” Barbara says. “Quite the contrary with the bee – interested community members start calling in January, wanting to know when the word lists will be ready so they can study and win!”
This year’s event will be held on Saturday, April 14 from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. at Freddie’s BBQ & Steakhouse at 1425 New Sapulpa Road. Barbara encourages those who want to participate to start gathering teams now from friends, family, work, school and clubs, and sign up by April 9. Multiple teams from each of these groups are allowed and encouraged. Once they have signed up and paid the entry fee, each team will receive a word list for the competition, from which 90 percent of the competition words are taken. A “mulligan,” an option to skip one word, one time, can also be purchased before the spelling bee for $10, with a limit of two mulligans per team.
Along with the great food available from Freddie’s, there will be both a silent and live auction, with all kinds of unique items available for bidding. Each team will receive a trophy, and the winning team will be awarded the coveted Traveling Trophy. The “Team Spirit” and “Best Costume” awards will also be given out at the competition’s end.
The Spell-A-Round Spelling Bee is Creek County Literacy Program’s signature event to raise funds for volunteer training and services, books and materials for those who need the program. The CCLP is a non-profit organization dedicated to eradicating illiteracy in Creek County.
The organization cites several bits of research from the Oklahoma Department of Libraries as reasons for their quest, such as the fact that an illiterate adult earns almost half as much on average as a literate one – making it no surprise that 43 percent of those with low literacy skills live in poverty. The ODL also reports that children with illiterate parents are twice as likely to grow up illiterate themselves and that 80 percent of juvenile offenders don’t have basic reading skills. But the ODL also reports that programs such as CCLP can help reverse these statistics, as the children of adults who take advantage of such services as those offered by CCLP will learn to read, thus improving grades and test scores and lowering their risk of becoming high school dropouts.
Barbara Belk has served as administrative director for CCLP for 18 years and describes the experience as one that has given her “tremendous joy.” She has enjoyed working with the staff and board at CCLP, but she says, “The very most important thing for me has been witnessing the happiness I see when a non-reader learns how to read. The light in their eyes, the bounce in their step and the overall change that happens is the most rewarding experience I have ever had.”